Fresh Perspective | Reflecting on the fall semester and what is next

Fresh Perspective is a biweekly blog about typical college experiences made strange by the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Julia Smeltzer, Senior Staff Writer

In just one week, the 2022 fall semester will come to an end. Sixteen long weeks filled with ups and downs will come to a close on December 16, and students will pack up and prepare to head back home for a much-needed break. It seems like just yesterday I was writing about coming back to campus to start the fall semester. So as the semester now comes to an end, it is a good time to reflect on the past 16 weeks.

A constant feeling I’ve mentioned throughout this semester is how my junior year just feels so different. I’ve reflected on how I am no longer a naïve and excited first-year student who is experiencing college for the first time. Now, I am halfway done with my junior year, and things feel more serious. At first, this was an uncomfortable feeling to live with. At first, I was scared of growing up because it seemed daunting and overwhelming. But throughout the semester, I’ve learned how to feel grateful for this process and to be excited about what is to come, instead of trying to run away from it.

One of my first articles for Fresh Perspective was about how I was nervous and scared to leave my hometown, my friends and my family. I was scared to leave behind what I was comfortable with and those I love most. As much as I have grown personally since my first year, I was still excited when a piece of home joined me at Pitt when my best friend of 7+ years transferred to Pitt this semester.

I will admit, I was nervous about balancing my friendship with her while also maintaining the life I have built at Pitt over the past two years. However, I couldn’t be more grateful to have her here. She knows me better than most people, and having her by my side through the good and bad times this semester is something I will always feel grateful for. And I can’t wait to see all the memories we continue to make together in college.

This semester was also the busiest I have ever been. Taking 18 credits, writing for The Pitt News, working at an on-campus restaurant and having an internship completely filled up my schedule and free time. There were plenty of days when I felt completely overwhelmed and had anxiety about how I could manage all of my work while maintaining my mental health, friendships and social life.

As the semester comes to a close, I look back and feel proud of how I was able to manage all of that. Most students have a lot on their plate. With work, classes and extracurriculars, we can find ourselves in moments of stress, anxiety and the feeling of being overwhelmed. We also might think that we aren’t good enough or that we can’t get through it. But as each semester comes to an end, it is important to look back and be proud of yourself for getting through it, even if at times you didn’t think you could.

Even though I am excited about this much-needed break, I’m also excited to see what next semester has in store. I’m looking forward to making new memories with my friends and taking classes that interest me instead of having a schedule full of gen ed requirements. I can’t wait to see where this journey of growing up takes me.

With the idea of graduation getting closer and closer, I’m also excited to just take in every second I can. When we get up and do the same thing every day for 16 weeks, life can become mundane. But in reality, the last two and a half years have flown by, even when some days felt incredibly long. So, my advice to you is to take in every second. Remember the times when you ate questionable dining hall food with your friends, laughed too loud on the ground floor in Hillman, or sang “Sweet Caroline” in the student section every Saturday. Because whether a semester is stressful or mundane, you’ll regret not taking in those small memories, because you won’t be able to make them forever.

So even if you did experience a horrible semester, make sure to find joy in the small things. And remember, each semester will end and a new one will start. So take in what you’ve experienced and learned and apply it to the next semester ahead of you. But for now, enjoy a much-needed break because we all deserve it.